Participants in this year’s Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies found themselves immersed in an eye-opening experience of Lasallian formation, receiving significant and in-depth professional development surrounding the heritage, history, pedagogy, values, and spirituality of the Lasallian mission.
“I was overwhelmed by the diversity of ministries of participants yet all of us were there for the same purpose – to keep the ideals, traditions, values, and teachings of St. John Baptist de La Salle alive while adapting to today’s modern society and very different socio-economic climates,” said Brother Peter Ryan, FSC, Principal of Oakhill College in Australia and Buttimer 1 participant.
Buttimer began in 1984 and is an intensive Lasallian formation and education program sponsored by Christian Brothers Conference. It studies the origins of the Lasallian educational mission and the life and work of St. John Baptist de La Salle, Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Participants meet for three, two-week sessions over the course of three summers with each year focused on a different aspect: the founding story, De La Salle’s educational vision, and De La Salle’s spiritual vision. Buttimer strives to provide participants with a deeper understanding of the Lasallian heritage and its influence on contemporary education. It also seeks to deepen the participant’s association for the Lasallian mission and provide skills to become catalysts in their own ministries.
“Programs like Buttimer are important because they are the way in which our heritage is passed on,” said Tom Eichwald, Teacher/Department Chair of Religion at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis, MO, who completed the program this year. “Buttimer handed me so many opportunities to grow as a Lasallian during my three years (prayer, fellowship, study, practicums, etc.), but now as a graduate it is my responsibility to seek these opportunities out. Buttimer taught me that the life of the Institute depends upon ongoing conversations and formation in our institutions, and I have a unique opportunity to be a part of that.”
Dr. Leda Reeves, Faculty member at West Catholic Preparatory High School in Philadelphia, PA, left her first year of Buttimer feeling ‘on fire’ and eager to become fully invested in the vision of De La Salle. “Pre-Buttimer I had only a vague notion of De La Salle and the work of the Christian Brothers. Brother Jeffrey Calligan, FSC, (Buttimer instructor) enabled us to see the man, De La Salle, and to taste his passion, his reliance on Providence, and his immense love for children,” said Reeves. “I desire to transmit not just the information but the spirit of this great saint.”
This year, Buttimer welcomed 90 participants with 34 people in Buttimer 1, 32 people in Buttimer 2, and 24 people in Buttimer 3. Most participants were from the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN), but the program included several international participants from Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Eritrea.
“Buttimer is important for carrying on the charism and mission of the Lasallian network. It is important for us to keep the mission going especially with fewer and fewer Brothers at our schools,” said Clare McCormick, Religion Teacher at Saint Mary’s College High School in Berkeley, CA, and Buttimer 2 participant. “Formation is key to accomplishing this goal.”
The program was held June 29 – July 11 at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga.